Phoenix Suns try for a perfect homestand

Phoenix Suns, Jae Crowder and Devin Booker (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Phoenix Suns, Jae Crowder and Devin Booker (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

The experts analyzing the Phoenix Suns didn’t see this coming.

The Suns’ current string of nine wins in 10 games — and the past six in a row on their seven-game homestand — has their fans thrilled.

And it’s more than the fans; the NBA’s veteran observers are digesting the Suns’ surge.

And the Phoenix Suns plan to welcome double the attendance — 3,000 are expected — when the Brooklyn Nets visit Phoenix Suns Arena on Tuesday night for a nationally televised (8:30 p.m. MT on TNT) clash.

What to expect?

First, the Phoenix Suns-Brooklyn Nets battle is a homecoming on a couple of fronts.

Brooklyn coach Steve Nash is in his first year as a head coach.

(Also, how old are you? Steve Nash just turned 47!)

While playing with the Suns, Nash was a two-time NBA MVP winner and led Phoenix to the brink of the NBA Finals.

Fans would say significant cheating and various misdeeds kept their team from achieving the ultimate goal. (Stay on the bench, Amare’ and Boris!)

Nash has been navigating the treacherous waters that involve only one ball for three superstars.

Recently, guard Kyrie Irving said that teammate James Harden is the point guard. OK, problem solved. And Kevin Durant has been out because of hamstring issues.

Irving hit nine of his 11 attempts from 3-point range in a Monday night throttling of Sacramento. He finished the night with 40 points on 15-for-22 shooting overall.

Harden had 29 points on 10-of-18 shooting (6-10 from 3-point range), with, oh yeah, 14 assists and 13 rebounds. There’s your point guard.

Also, and not insignificantly, Kevin Durant sat out because of a hamstring injury.

The other homecoming aspect, of course, is Harden’s return to the Valley of the Sun. He played at Arizona State and helped elevate the Sun Devils’ profile, leading them into the NCAA Tournament.

The Phoenix Suns will have matchup concerns across the board when the Brooklyn Nets take the floor on Tuesday night.

Several questions beg for answers.

Will Deandre Ayton be able to carve out success against DeAndre Jordan? The concern is Ayton’s inferior strength when it comes to keeping Jordan off the glass. This will clearly be a case of “want-to,” with Ayton needing to be proactive on offense, moving without the ball and succeeding on the pick-and-roll.

Can the Suns adequately defend the Irving-Harden combo? This will test Suns coach Monty Williams defensive strategy. Since Harden is the primary ball handler, is it necessary to double him at the top and try to take away his offense? If that’s the case, fingers crossed that Irving doesn’t repeat the marksmanship he showed in Sacramento.

Are Devin Booker and Chris Paul becoming an elite one-two punch among NBA contenders? This will be an interesting test, with Brooklyn wanting to impose its will on the Suns’ backcourt. If Booker and Paul take the fight to the Nets on offense, the dynamic could be reversed.

With Kevin Durant sidelined because of a hamstring injury for the Brooklyn Nets, the Phoenix Suns have an opportunity to run their winning streak to seven.

The Suns catch the Nets on the second of a back-to-back, and perhaps hope that they see some load management from the opponent.

Hitting 27 of 47 from 3-point range on Monday night, the Nets are sizzling. The turning point on Tuesday night could each team’s supporting cast.

The Nets’ Joe Harris has provided long-range shooting when defenses collapse to stop Harden and Irving (and Durant, when healthy) from driving all the way to the cup. DeAndre Jordan also provides plenty of box score-filling contributions via rebounding and defense.

The Suns will need a boost from Cam Johnson and perhaps a combination of Langston Galloway, E’Twaun Moore and Dario Saric, in addition to strong efforts from their starters.

Bring the popcorn. It should be entertaining.

Next. Phoenix Suns takeaways from win over Milwaukee. dark